Co-owner of the Boston Pizza chain and star of CBC’s "Dragons’ Den," Jim Treliving is proof you can be from a small town and still have big dreams.
Born and raised in Virden, Treliving spent eight years with the RCMP before building a business empire that now spans multiple industries across North America.
"Growing up in the Prairies was fantastic," Treliving said moments before taking the stage at Assiniboine Community College’s graduation ceremony to receive an honorary diploma in business administration. "It doesn’t matter where you grew up ... just do what you want to do."
Being that it’s his first honorary diploma and it’s from his home province, Treliving said that makes it an even greater honour.
"I’ll celebrate by putting it up in my office," Treliving said with a smile. "It’s a recognition of all the things I’ve done across the country and being in business, that’s what it’s all about."
Treliving said his time spent with the RCMP provided him with "a great education" and taught him the importance of discipline when it comes to any business endeavour.
"I think that’s the greatest thing you have to have as an entrepreneur," he said. "It’s not all easy, it doesn’t happen overnight.
"You don’t build a franchise in a couple of weeks."
Surrounding himself with great people, including his wife Sandi and business partner George Melville, is another one of his keys to success, he said.
Together, Treliving and Melville manage and invest in a collection of companies under T&M Group — including Boston Pizza — that together have annual sales of more than $1 billion.
And even at the age of 73, Treliving said he doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon.
"I don’t have a job," he said. "I have a great time."
Among the 822 graduates crossing the stage at yesterday’s graduation ceremony were Daniel Kroeker and his wife Hillary, who both graduated from ACC’s agribusiness program.
Wearing his cap and gown, Daniel said he and his wife "made a great team" throughout the two-year program.
"We were able to help each other out a lot," he said.
Hillary said she feels she learned more going to school with her husband than if she would have done it alone.
"I really enjoyed going to school with him," she said. "It was really fun."
Daniel, who was also presented with a Lieutenant Governor’s Silver Medal yesterday, said the skills he has learned at ACC will come in handy working on his family’s farm near Killarney.
"Their (ACC’s) slogan ‘learn by doing’ actually describes it very well because there’s actually a lot of practical knowledge that you learn," he said.
"Also, the instructors are all very good and they care about their students doing well."